President’s Speech To Catholic Health Association

The White House

On Tuesday, U.S. President Obama spoke about America’s healthcare in a speech to the Catholic Health Association’s annual assembly, in Washington, DC.  He attempted to make the case that The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an integral part of the country’s social safety net, much like Social Security or Medicare.

He condemned opponents of his signature health care law as “cynical” partisans seeking to deprive Americans of an important benefit, writes The New York Times. He built a tough political case against Republicans as the Supreme Court weighs whether to strike down a key element of the Affordable Care Act in the case of King v. Burwell.

“This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another — this is health care in America,” the president said in a speech to the Catholic Health Association, an organization that championed the law and has written a brief asking the high court to uphold it. “It seems so cynical to want to take health care away from millions of people.”

Hilarious: Nebraska Woman Files Lawsuit Against All Gay People


TYT Network

A Christian Nebraska woman last week filed a lawsuit against the entire group of “homosexuals” in America, in her role as Ambassador for the plaintiffs, namely, “God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ,” states thenewcivilrightsmovement.com.

However, per the Omaha World-Herald, as of recently, a judge decided not to hear the case.

Sylvia Driskell, 66, filed her seven-page handwritten lawsuit in the “United State District Court of Omaha,” asking the federal court to determine, “Is Homosexuality a sin, or not a sin.”

The lawsuit quotes Leviticus, “God tells his children in Leviticus Chapter 18 verse 22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is ambomination.” And also Romans I, and “Jenesis.” And it concludes with these time-honored questions, such as:

“Why are judges passing laws, so sinners can break religious and moral laws?

“Will all the judges of this Nation, judge God to be a lier (sic)?

“For God has said; that all unrighteousness is sin, and that homosexuality is abomination”

(Updated article)
http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/_more_persecution_of_christians_judge_tosses_lawsuit_suing_all_homosexuals_on_behalf_of_jesus

Recent Wal-Mart Developments

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union said it planned to seek an injunction from the National Labor Relations Board on Monday to get retailer Wal-Mart to rehire 2,200 employees at five recently closed stores, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The UFCW claims that Wal-Mart Stores closed its Pico Rivera, CA location in retaliation for protests by workers there in recent years seeking higher pay and benefits, states the Post-Dispatch.  Other closed locations are in Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Walmart’s spokesperson, Delia Garcia, claimed “these are not layoffs” just before clarifying that “everyone will have to reapply as if new employees” once the stores reopen, states Jobs With Justice.

Wal-Mart has argued it closed the stores because of “major plumbing issues.” They had said the stores would remain closed to up to six months, according to the Associated Press.

However, Jobs With Justice states that according to city officials in the city of Pico Rivera, Walmart has not applied for permits to engage in plumbing work.

The group OUR Walmart filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, and argues the closings were a “retaliatory” measure against employees.

The store in Pico Rivera, California, was reportedly a hotbed for worker protesting.

The group wants the board to seek a court injunction, which can be quicker than typical NLRB proceedings.

In other related news, Wal-Mart is increasing the pressure on suppliers to cut the cost of their products in an effort to regain the image of low-price leader and turn around its sluggish U.S. sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wal-Mart says it has been telling suppliers to forgo investments in joint marketing with the retailer and to put the savings into lower prices instead. Makers of branded consumer products from diapers to yogurt typically set aside a part of their budgets for marketing with Wal-Mart, spending on things like product displays and online advertisements.

Wal-Mart has long had a reputation for pressing its suppliers to cut costs to help lower prices, but the retailer’s new leadership has embraced the concept with “fresh vigor,” states the Wall Street Journal.

With the growth of dollar stores and other discounters, Wal-Mart is facing more competition on price, which for many customers is the most important point.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new order to lower prices “is creating tension with companies that supply the hundreds of thousands of products on Wal-Mart’s shelves.”

More here

Sociology Students Go to Prison For Class Requirement

Temple University

For 18 years, the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program has been “a staple of social and criminal justice education at over 100 universities,” writes Krysta Amber Loftis of USA Today.  Inside-Out arranges classes at local prisons featuring both incarcerated and non-incarcerated students.

The Inside-Out program began in 1997 at Philadelphia’s Temple University, and has since become a staple of social and criminal justice education at over 100 universities, including Michigan State, the University of Toledo, Penn State and Dartmouth.

Take the example of Central Michigan University (CMU).

Members of CMU’s chapter of the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program spend Tuesday nights in the Central Michigan Correctional Facility in St. Louis. The class, Social Issues through the Prism of Prison, is taught by sociology professor Justin Smith.

This is the second semester CMU has offered the course.

“It’s (13) students from the inside and (13) students from the outside,” Smith said, explaining that the incarcerated men are between the ages of 20 and 65.

“A lot of this is a reaction to making sure we’re improving education in prisons, but also in higher education institutions. It’s a way to offer CMU students a very diverse setting to learn in (and) a way to learn from a variety of experiences, a variety of ages.”

The prison portion of the class consists of group discussions.

Issues range from the criminal justice system to gender, race and racism, class, social change, social movements and collective action.

“Both the inside guys and outside students get a lot out of it,” Smith said. “The inside guys are mostly older, and they’ve been through a different lifestyle than the students. The students have had a lot more access to education. We’re able to have a lot of good discussions.”

Is There Censorship Surrounding The Death Penalty?

Due to a European Union ban on selling drugs used in lethal injections, death penalty states now rely on compounding pharmacies, according to Business Insider.

Compounding pharmacies are typically small businesses who produce execution cocktails to order. These compounds are unregulated by the FDA, and their manufacturers are cloaked in secrecy, states ReasonTV.

“Since the 70s, America has tried to sanitize the way it kills people in death chambers by saying that this is an act of medical intervention,” says Ed Pilkington, chief reporter for The Guardian US.

Pilkington describes the botched execution of Clayton Lockett of Oklahoma in April 2014, as related to him by a Guardian colleague who witnessed Lockett’s execution:

“He was groaning, he was shouting out. They were finding it impossible to get the vein, so blood was spurting over all the people in the death chamber, I mean it was the most horrendous situation. And right at that moment they decided to shut the curtain, which would prevent any witnesses, including reporters, from seeing what happened.”

Pilkington calls this the “most visceral form of censorship” and says “there should be maximum transparency.”

He claims the current system has complete secrecy surrounding every step of the execution process, from the sources of the drugs themselves to the grisly reality when those drugs fail to kill the condemned in a timely and painless fashion.

Missouri is one of 13 states to have expanded what are known as “black hood laws,” which are meant to protect the identities of executioners, to now also make confidential everyone involved in the production and delivery of lethal injection drugs. These laws even supersede the Freedom of Information Act.

In response, The Guardian, Associated Press, and several prominent Missouri newspapers have filed suit against the state, in what is believed to be the First Amendment challenge to the death penalty.

The lawsuit argues the public has a First Amendment right to access all information pertaining to government activities in capital cases, beginning in the courtroom, through the death chamber, and into the autopsy room. No court date has been set.


ReasonTV

More on Ed Pilkington

Economists Argue That College Athletes Should Be Paid

The average pro basketball player makes $24.7 million over his 4.8 year career, according to The USA Today.

The average pro football player makes $6.7 million over his 3.5 year career.

But the average college basketball or football player doesn’t even make $1.  While they may receive full or partial academic scholarships, not a single college athlete is paid.

The NCAA, which regulates 23 sports at 1,200 schools across the US, has repeatedly argued student-athletes should not get salaries. They say this “undermines the purpose of college: an education.”

“Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary.”

In their recent report, The Case For Paying College Athletes, economists Allen Sanderson and his co-author John Siegfried claim this system is not only unfair, but possibly illegal.

“Last year in March, the National Labor Relations Board decided Northwestern’s football players were primarily athletes, rather than students,” says Allen Sanderson, senior lecturer in economics at the University of Chicago and co-author of the article.

Northwestern players can now get employee medical benefits and unionize, according to USA Today.

Although it doesn’t matter whether they unionize or not, Sanderson says, “because the overriding principle is they fall under labor law, not ‘student law.’”

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Northwestern is now appealing that decision.  The economists feel that Northwestern will lose the case.

“They’re going lose, they know they’re going lose,” Sanderson says. “Can the NCAA survive [players being labeled as employees]? Yes. But it’s going to be messy.”

Sanderson and his co-author John Siegfried believe the NCAA might not survive the outcome of the Kessler case.

“The Kessler case is a lawsuit [filed by Jeffrey Kessler] against the NCAA, arguing that it is price-fixing when the NCAA sets the amount for the grant-in-aid, tuition, room and books [student-athletes receive],” Sanderson explains.

Did Republicans ‘Flip-Flop’ On Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit?

On March 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of King v. Burwell.  King v. Burwell threatens to unravel the Affordable Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare – because the plaintiffs argue that the health-care law does not authorize subsidies through federally run insurance marketplaces.  Instead, they say, the law only allows such subsidies in the 14 states (and District of Columbia) which set up their own exchanges.

It was argued that because the law did not clearly state that premium subsidies would be provided to Americans living in a state that did not set up a health-insurance exchange, an Internal Revenue Service rule of extending the subsidies to all states was illegal.

Have some Republicans flip-flopped on the issue?

Advocates of the law have pointed to statements made by leading Republican lawmakers that have suggested that at one point they too assumed the subsidies would be made available to all Americans.

The Washington Post reports that GOP Senators John Cornyn, John Barrasso, and Orrin Hatch, along with Rep. Paul Ryan, are all previously on record making statements that appear grounded in the assumption that subsidies would be available to people who got health care on the federal exchanges, in addition to state ones.

The King lawsuit, of course, alleges that the ACA does not authorize subsidies to all those people, and now, Cornyn, Hatch, and Ryan have signed a brief siding with the challengers. Meanwhile, Barrasso is openly rooting for the Supreme Court to “bring down” the law.

Some of these statements have been previously aired. What’s new here is that these Senators and their spokespeople have now attempted to explain their shift in views. Most of their explanations, Kessler concludes, are pretty weak, and amount to an “unacknowledged flip-flop.”

The back-tracks earned these politicians an “upside-down Pinnochio” in the Washington Post, showing that they “flip-floped” on the issue.

Texas Judge Blocks The President’s Immigration Executive Order

MSNBC

A Texas Judge has blocked the president’s immigration order.

Does the president have the right to issue executive orders on immigration?

According to HowStuffWorks, “Executive orders have been used by every American president since George Washington to lead the nation through times of war, to respond to natural disasters and economic crises, to encourage or discourage regulation by federal agencies, to promote civil rights, or in the case of the Japanese internment camps, to revoke civil rights.”

According to the New Republic, Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush took executive action on immigration.  Reagan and Bush made executive actions to stop the deportation of children and spouses of newly-legalized immigrants. In fact, Bush’s executive action was called the “family fairness” program.

USA Today claims the younger George W. Bush also “…issued a number of small-bore executive orders — to expedite citizenship for immigrants in the military, or to defer deportation for students affected by Hurricane Katrina…”

Talking Points Memo states that the president has ordered fewer executive orders than any president since prior to World War II.  TPM states it comes out to less than 0.1 for every day he’s been in office. “FDR, by comparison, was cranking out close to one per day as he faced the Great Depression and World War II.”  TPM does state that the simple totals “cannot account for the scope and tangible impact of individual executive orders or incorporate other elements of executive power,” which is understandable.

The question is:  what are the grounds for a lawsuit, impeachment, or the claims of lawlessness?

The only possibility is that the executive orders have possibly been too broad in scope.

According to the New York Times, “(m)ost of the major elements of the president’s plan are based on longstanding legal precedents that give the executive branch the right to exercise ‘prosecutorial discretion’ in how it enforces the laws. That was the basis of a 2012 decision to protect from deportation the so-called Dreamers, who came to the United States as young children. The new announcement will be based on a similar legal theory, officials said.” [The New York Times,11/13/14]

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/presidents-most-executive-orders

http://people.howstuffworks.com/executive-order.htm

http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/11/13/right-wing-media-wrong-about-the-legality-of-th/201553

Chris Christie Waging 23 Court Battles To Keep State Documents Secret: Mother Jones

PHOTO: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a news conference, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton.

According to Mother Jones, media outlets have been forced to sue to obtain even routinely disclosed information, such as payroll data.

Rather than release documents connected to Bridge-gate, pay-to-play allegations, possible ethics violations, and the out-of-state trips Christie has made while looking at a run for president, Chris Christie’s office and several state agencies have waged costly court battles.

As the 2016 presidential primary race draws closer, and Christie considers jumping in, his administration is fighting 23 different open records requests in court.

“The track record is abysmal,” says Jennifer Borg, general counsel for the North Jersey Media Group.

Her organization, which publishes The Record, has sued the state for public documents a half-dozen times since Christie took office. When a judge determines that the state withheld records illegally—which happens frequently—her group wins legal fees. As of September 2014, Christie’s administration had paid $441,000 to North Jersey Media Group and other media outlets for records. And that doesn’t count the cost of government lawyers’ time.

The fight has become expensive for the state because when newspapers go to court for these records, they usually win. But winning doesn’t automatically produce the sought-after records.

“We can and do beat them in court. But as long as they’re appealing—I don’t want to call it a Pyrrhic victory, but we’re not going to get the records,” says Walter Luers, an attorney who helped a transparency project run by the state Libertarian Party sue for public access for Christie’s travel expenses.

“Appeals take two to three years. We’re already into the presidential elections. By the time we get these records, Christie could have a new address.”

Christie’s reluctance to let these records go is understandable. On Tuesday, for example, The New York Times published an investigation of expensive trips, sponsored by donors and foreign leaders, that the governor has taken abroad. Some of those accounts were based on public documents that local newspapers obtained through lawsuits.

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Mentions Paris Lawsuit

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly had strong words for Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

During an interview Tuesday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Hidalgo announced she plans to sue Fox News after the network “insulted” the image of the city with a bogus report on non-Muslim “no-go zones.” Over the weekend, Fox News apologized four times for several unsubstantiated claims made on the air, but Hidalgo insisted that the city will “have to go to court in order to have these words removed.”

Tuesday, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly hit back, calling the threat of legal action “ridiculous” and an “attention-getter,” and he went out of his way to call the Parisian mayor a socialist.

“I didn’t have anything to do with this, but I will point out that the mayor is a socialist, that Fox News isn’t even seen in France, because they block it there,” he said.

He did not talk about the reasons that Fox News is blocked in France.

“So this is just an attention-getter, another playing to the left, that’s what this is. Suit’s going nowhere. It’s ridiculous.”

Commentator Bernie Goldberg pushed back, stating that “if any news organization has to apologize as many times as Fox has over this one issue, something is wrong.” O’Reilly then attempted to shift the blame to Steven Emerson, the Fox News guest who made the initial “no-go zones” remark about Birmingham, England.

“It was the Birmingham, England, thing. It was different. It was a different issue there,” O’Reilly said, adding that Fox News hadn’t insulted Paris. “He doesn’t work for Fox News. It was a commentator that they put on.”

Below is Steven Emerson’s exchange with Fox’s Jeanine Pirro.


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